We are all probably acquainted with the adolescent who lacks self confidence and hunches his shoulders forward. It is pretty obvious how this self reinforcing paradigm occurs between body and mind. If he feels small and unimportant, hunching makes the body seem smaller. If he thinks it is unsafe to be noticed, a dropped head with lack of eye contact invites the illusion of invisibility. Is it conscious? Most of the time, it probably is not. Just as we are generally not conscious of what we are doing with our bodies every day.... until they start to hurt and demand our attention.
Action follows thought, and our bodies react to the way we behold the world around us. To illustrate this, look at something in the space where you are. Think about this item as if it was your most beloved thing in all the world (or it represents your beloved). Think about how lucky you are to have it near you and feel gratitude for it being in your life. Notice what your body does in response. Odds are good that the soft palate in your mouth raised, and your jaw and shoulders relaxed. Perhaps a smile came to your mouth and your sacrum widened as your breath deepened. We love the feelings of love and gratitude and our bodies get happy too. Now look at this same object as if it was the cause of all of your problems; blame it for everything and get mad at it. Notice what your body does in response to those thoughts. Did your jaw clench or your eyes narrow? What happened to your shoulders, your breath? When we deeply criticize or scrutinize something, we tend to lose our relationship with the space around us. We can get sucked into an object or action (like getting lost in the computer screen or having a temper tantrum), or create a wall of separation and distance (become a victim, withdraw).
Our bodies simply follow the programs we have uploaded during our lifetime. If you have a wrong idea in your mind, the body functions according to that wrong idea. Your central nervous system can only operate in accordance with the maps and scripts that it has. Those maps were made with old beliefs and images; they function as your software and could probably use some updating. The central nervous system simply tries to make your life match whatever maps are in the program. A classic example is someone who has worked hard to achieve their desired weight but still views themself as heavy and therefore gains the weight back.
How do you see yourself and what are the maps that shape your experience and your body? Know that your beholding patterns were developed as strategies for survival in the world, and they served a purpose in the past. What if in this present moment you try beholding yourself with loving kindness? No judgement, no criticism, just self care and observation. Soften your eyes, smile and simply notice your body. There is a neat thing that happens when we are not scrutinizing. Our bodies relax, and in that relaxation, they can open, heal, grow and renew relationship with self and the world. When you catch yourself scowling or growling, simply notice the habits of thinking or doing that keep you from beholding yourself or another with loving kindness. Observe: "I am doing this.... I don't have to do this.... I can make another choice". And then make another choice. Do this often enough and you change the map. Ask for help if you need it.
This tidbit is dedicated with deep gratitude to F.M. Alexander and all his students and teachers.